UPDATE 4-Italy's Berlusconi hits back at EU demands

lunedì 24 ottobre 2011 22:29

* Cabinet meets on reform, ends with no decision-sources

* Berlusconi lashes out at German, French pressure

* Bond yields close to level that prompted ECB action (Adds cabinet meeting ends, talks continue)

By James Mackenzie

ROME, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hit back on Monday at European Union partners who have been pressing Italy for swift economic reforms, saying no country in the bloc was in a position to give lessons to others.

Berlusconi issued a statement saying Italy would present firm proposals at the next EU summit on Wednesday, but an extraordinary cabinet meeting to discuss fresh pension reforms ended with no decisions on Monday, government sources said.

His remarks followed demands from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a news conference on Sunday for him to take action, which Italian media interpreted as humiliating for the 75-year-old prime minister.

"Nobody in the Union can appoint themselves administrators and speak in the name of elected governments and the peoples of Europe," Berlusconi said in the statement. "No one is in a position to be giving lessons to their partners."

He said Italy had taken steps to shore up its public finances and repeated that it would balance the budget by 2013. He said his government had clear positions on how to address the sovereign debt crisis and the crisis in the banking sector, "in particular the Franco-German" system.   Continua...